Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Bring Your own Argument

We have a pandemic problem with dialog.

People state opinions as absolute facts, and they argue facts emotionally as if they were opinions.

We need a new set of rules around dialog, a new paradigm.

Perhaps if both sides of a dialectic conversation where facts are questioned and opinions are conflicting were to step back from their side to critically analyze what is "right" about the other side's facts, and what of their opinions can be agreed upon, a newly articulated and stronger position could be assumed in the debate. It would also undoubtedly be one that would be more readily accepted by the "other side" owing to the fact that much of the newly assumed position would have originated there.

In my experience personally and professionally I have witnessed dialog turn completely toxic so many times owing to unsophisticated thinking regarding the other side. What, in nearly every case should have been a generative and collaborative discussion with a singular and purposeful agenda to "win" the issue as opposed to "win" the argument, turns into a complete deviation from that. The righteous agenda to discuss an issue purposefully with the intent to improve the reality of the issue being discussed is completely lost at that point.

We're living in a world that is advancing faster than our ability to keep up. We're forced to deal with complex problems revolving around evolution and progress a lot these days. Oftentimes when we come up with something brilliant, it appears to create a cascade of unforeseen challenges that we didn't anticipate. The inception of smart phones and how using them correlated with a sharp increase in mental health and social problems among users is a simple and obvious example.

 Look Both Directions Sign - R15-8, SKU: X-R15-8

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Get out of the box!

I read "Leadership and Self-Deception, Getting Outside of the Box" several years ago in graduate school and was delighted at the premise it supposed. An editorial note for the book states,
The "disease" of self-deception (acting in ways contrary to what one knows is right) underlies all leadership problems in today's organizations, according to the premise of this work. However well-intentioned they may be, leaders who deceive themselves always end up undermining their own performance. This straightforward book explains how leaders can discover their own self-deceptions and learn how to escape destructive patterns. The authors demonstrate that breaking out of these patterns leads to improved teamwork, commitment, trust, communication, motivation, and leadership.
When I read the book, my mind went to the idea of relativismRelativism can indicate that anything is righteous and good, as long as we simply say so after creating some form of rationalization for believing so. As a form of existentialism, a relativistic perspective in leadership often translates as the leader making decisions based on a compromised set of values and beliefs. Leadership relativism is particularly damaging simply because leaders lead... and those who follow will undoubtedly be affected by all decisions of the leader; good or bad. Existentialism is the opponent of an organizational values-driven decision-making paradigm. 
  1. a philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

The existential principle that people should have unilateral control over their choices and actions has become a troubling contemporary issue in society. On the surface the belief that society should not restrict an individual's life or actions owing to the tenet that these restrictions inhibit free will and the development of that person's potential can be perceived as a positive concept. Who wouldn't want to have total control over the feelings, actions, and words one chooses to share with the world?

However, herein lies the problem. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

HumanKIND... Mental Health Awareness Day Every Day

Let's be honest, mental health is a market. It drives an industry. There is big money in mental health. Thousands of people leverage their position within the market by providing a service designed to help people. They possess skills, they have the training, and they have experience and that's all great. We need many more of these mental health professionals, and there should be funding to support less advantaged people's access to them. However... 

There are real things that can be done every day by all of us to support our own, and each other's mental health. We don't need large corporate sponsors or big publicity t-shirt days to empower empathy, understanding, and unconditional care for each other. The moral and righteous path to improved mental health in our society is for people to be kinds to themselves, and each other EVERY DAY. We don't need a program, a campaign, a hashtag, or anything else other than the will to be human and cohabitate the planet peacefully doing our best to enjoy every moment we're blessed to have on this earth. 

It's cliche, (most things that have been completely true for a really long time are,) but we must once and for all learn how to go really hard on issues, solving problems, and creating better futures, and really, really soft on the people we share our life-spaces with. A more important reality doesn't exist. We need an empathy reboot.

HumanKIND depends on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Michael Josefowicz @toughloveforx - A Legend Passes Far Too Soon


The image above is a snapshot of my first Twitter DM interaction with Mr. Michael Josefowicz. Michael reached out to me in response to a post I had written here at KARE Givers in January 2010 entitled "Why Is It Always About The Funding?", one that he had already commented on in the comment stream. He joined Twitter in April 2009, and I joined shortly after in June of the same year. If memory serves, our first encounter in the Twittersphere began at the original #ecosys chat and would turn into a lasting friendship that I could never have anticipated. I wish I could tell him one more time how grateful I am for that. My dear friend and confidant passed away suddenly just a couple of days ago.

Our first match of "Twitter Tennis," as he liked to call it involved a deep dive into the issue of teacher preparation and professional development. At the time Michael's Twitter bio included something like "Retired Printer- now I want to blah blah about fixing high school." I can tell you he wasn't kidding. Michael had done some teaching at Parsons Design College in New York, and although he was without a shadow of a doubt, an exemplary publisher, I have always thought he missed his true calling. Michael was at his core an insightful and passionate teacher. His passion for sharing knowledge and insight with virtually anyone who would listen is legendary in social media circles and to anyone who knew him personally. I give him all the credit for providing me with more professional support to evolve my teaching than any other person or process I've encountered since becoming a teacher myself over 26 years ago.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Cultural Tails (Tales) - The Story Everyone Tells

de·us ex ma·chi·na
/ˌdāəs ˌeks ˈmäkənə,ˌdāəs ˌeks ˈmäakənə/
  1. an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.

Our lives are a series of stories that evolve in quantum ways every second as we are affected by the realities in our environments and the decisions we make surrounding them. Much of what goes on around us is beyond our control. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Psychology, it's phenomenological in the sense that,
the discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view.
How capably we are able to engineer our own stories depends on our ability to accept that the phenomena that surround us is essentially beyond our control. Sometimes, as in literature or theatre, a deus ex machina is helpful in resolving the seemingly hopeless life situations that are ultimately beyond our control, but not beyond our personal influence and ability to internalize and accept. Partly as a response to what I wrote recently about how the path of teaching chose me, and also just because it's front of mind, this resolve is what I want to talk about today. 

Essential to the stories of our lives, recognizing deus ex manchina that have unexpected power to resolve a sense of hopelessness, or what Victor Frankl would characterize as a lack of purpose, is critical to our resilience and happiness. Viktor Frankl's (1946) Man's Search for Meaning chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. According to Frankl, the book intends to answer the question "how was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?" He observed that prisoners who found something to do every day appeared less vulnerable to the guards, and subsequently were judged as useful in one way or another; not as expendable. I simply cannot even imagine the horror of that reality, but nonetheless, it was documented by Frankl, (perhaps that was his purpose in attempting to make any sense of the horror,) and it makes sense to me.

I took away from this book the notion that without purpose, there is nothing. I think I already knew this on some level, but not to the point where I was considering the concept as part of my minute-by-minute navigation of daily challenges. I have come to realize implicitly that purpose needs to be at the core of everything I do. Purpose is a deus ex machina that resolves nearly all hopeless situations in life. It's a very critical one and we may need help finding it sometimes, but we have to have it. Hope is an action word.
Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog


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